LAFAYETTE (Ragin' Cajuns Athletics) -- For the third consecutive season, No. 25 Louisiana Football claimed the Sun Belt Conference West Division crown, treating the crowd to a dominant 38-10 victory over South Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Cajun Field.
Entering the contest with a 1.5-game lead over the Jaguars, the Ragin' Cajuns (7-1, 5-1 Sun Belt) used a 28-point first half and 506 yards of total offense to take an insurmountable lead in the division standings.
Senior quarterback Levi Lewis was a huge factor in the offensive production, throwing for 252 yards and three touchdowns, just the fourth time in his career that he has thrown from three scores in a single game. Peter LeBlanc caught a team-high five of Lewis' 21 completions, while Jalen Williams, Errol Rogers, Jr. and Trey Ragas each caught a touchdown pass.
On the ground, Chris Smith matched a career high with 99 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the season, a 22-yard score, while Ragas carried the ball 10 times for 78 yards, moving him ahead of Alonzo Harris (3,330) for fourth all-time in career rushing with 3,336 yards.
Fellow running back Elijah Mitchell toted the ball 15 times for 61 yards and a touchdown, his sixth of the season.
Louisiana's defense was absolutely stellar, allowing a season-low 10 points and limiting South Alabama to just 268 yards of total offense. The defense finished the ballgame with nine break ups, 7.0 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks and one interception.
Safety Percy Butler led the charge with his first career interception and first career sack to complement a team-high six tackles and a forced fumble, while fellow defensive back Mekhi Garner was credited with five tackles, 1.0 sack and four pass breakups, making him the first Ragin' Cajun with four breakups since Lance Kelley did so against FIU on Sept. 24, 2011.
It was a dream start for Louisiana, going ahead 14-0 just 6:32 into the opening quarter after a five-yard touchdown catch by senior Jalen Williams, who finished the game with two receptions for 24 yards, and a 22-yard rushing touchdown by Smith.
Rogers, Jr., extended the lead to 21-3 at the 7:54 mark of the second quarter, hauling in a three-yard, side-arm throw from Lewis to cap off an 11-play, 75-yard drive.
South Alabama (3-5, 2-3 Sun Belt) found the end zone for the first time with 4:04 to play when Kawaan Baker brought in a seven-yard pass from Desmond Trotter. Louisiana answered quickly though, using an explosive 47-yard rush by Smith to set up a five-yard score from Mitchell, pushing the lead to 28-10.
Kenneth Almendares scored the only points of the third quarter, knocking through his third consecutive field goal, a 25-yard make, to pad the lead.
With an already comfortable advantage entering the final period, Ragas put the cherry on top of a stellar performance by hauling in a pass from Lewis and tip-toeing down the sideline and into the end zone from 25-yards out to secure the 38-10 victory.